On April 29, two groups of students had the opportunity to visit the Florentine Opera Center and go behind the scenes into the world of wigs and makeup with designer Dawn Rivard. Dawn has served as Wig & Makeup Designer for Florentine Opera productions since 2003. (Readers who are logged into Facebook can see her in action at last season’s Semele).
The visiting students were choral students at Greendale High School and eighth graders at HOPE School. They learned how wigs and makeup are an important element in bringing the opera audiences see on stage to life. The visit was complete with makeup demonstrations.
Dawn also explained the wig design process to students, and how her job is intricately linked to the rest of the production team, especially costume designer Christianne Myers and stage director William Florescu. In addition, she told them about the career field and most of all showed how much FUN it is to use wigs and makeup to transform into an entirely new character!
“It was such a pleasure to talk with students who wanted to learn about wigs and make-up, and who were engaged in the experience,” noted Dawn. “I liked being able to explain the process to them, and to talk about the ways that each show is unique-we never quite know how things are going to go until the singers arrive-that’s when the real work begins. I wanted to give the students an authentic look at what goes into my job, but it was also lots of fun to show them ‘fight’ makeup and demonstrate techniques on them.”
Director of Education and Outreach Elizabeth Gardner reports, “Dawn put make-up and wigs on a variety of students. She turned one 8th grade student into an old man! All of the students were able to visit the upstairs wig and makeup shops, where Dawn works her magic. They were really impressed that Dawn has done make-up for celebrities—of course, they wanted to know WHO, even though she was modest about it. The students also toured the entire opera center. Most surprising: they thought the old-fashioned boiler in the basement practice rooms (which we affectionately call “the dungeon”) was REALLY COOL! One interesting things was that the Hope students were intitally somewhat hesitant to have Dawn demonstrate make-up or anything else on them. However, by the end of their tour, every student in the class, including the teacher, was walking right up to Dawn requesting to have something done on them. The group from Hope went back to school with lots of bruises, scratches and one very old looking guy…thanks to Dawn.”
Here are some more pictures from Opera Inside Out that day: